Archive for category Internet

how OS X is going to make everyone stupid

Okay – the title of this article is a bit, well… too much. It’s not going to make everyone stupid. What OS X is doing: It creates stereotypes. Like this one: Everyone with a Mac seems to automagically think he or she is a design-web-hip-artist of some sort.

There are great artists that do great things with a Mac – don’t get me wrong. As a matter of fact many great artist have switched and stayed on the white-sometimes-black (for an extra charge) side of the apple.

What I want to say is that: Making “doing things” look simple doesn’t always cut it. Of course you can get it done in seconds on a Mac – but “the real stuff” takes as long and as much of knowledge as on every other platform. You just have to know things – that you’re not told. Things that are hidden from you for the sake of usability. Things every nerdy-Macintosh-Fanboy just knows and which every other normal guy does not know.

The cause I am writing about this is a site of a very very great band called “Amplifico”. I visited their site and found that they are offering their EP for free download. I clicked on the link. Nothing happened. Maybe you can guess why nothing happened:

amplifico

It can look as simple as it does on a Mac to make a website. But in fact it isn’t. Thank god for OS X! It’s wonders of usability and the feel every application has are the things I really like about it. I don’t like about it that so many things think they are something they are not just by using it. I don’t like that so many misinterpretations of the User Interface are possible – giving people the sense of “having everything in control” when they actually don’t.

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Rickrolled by bitsundso

Oh dare you Timo Hetzel!

rickrolled

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das gute Gefühl guter Unterhaltung

Auf dem täglichen Weg ins Büro und von dort wieder nach Hause höre ich die verschiedensten Podcasts. Ein Stammpodcast seit nahezu der ersten Stunde ist Bitsundso und die verschiedenen Ableger davon: Games und so, Videogames und so, usw.

Und da Herr Hetzel und Crew seit wenigen Tagen hochoffiziell die Möglichkeit anbieten sie finanziell direkt zu unterstützen und dafür sogar noch zusätzlichen Nutzen (neben dem guten Gefühl) zu erhalten habe ich mir sozusagen direkt dieses famose Bits und so Plus Abo gegönnt.

bitsundso-plus-slide.001

Auf das da reichlich wunderbare Unterhaltung (wie in den letzten Jahren schon) kommen möge. Kaufe Bits und so Plus und werde glücklich!

Source: http://www.bitsundso.de/plus/

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free dr pepper

I am not a fan of Guns’n’Roses – but this deal is a steal: Dr Pepper betted that the band won’t get their new album released in 2008. If they would release it in 2008 every US citizen would get a free serve of Dr Pepper.

freepepper

get yours!

Source: http://www.drpepper.com/freeDrPepper/

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SPAM down 100%

Obviously the SPAM Provider whose internet access was cut off on wednesday (as reported by the Washington Post)

mail_spam_

Incoming mails is down from 4226 two days ago to 1663 today…giving a spam filter total of 0 false negatives (down from 1115 false negatives two days ago).

Thank you, whoever you are, for cutting of that evil spam providing internet access provider!

Source: WashingtonPost

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Bruce Schneier accurately predicts the random.

This is just hilarious! Like we all like to fool around with Chuck Norris it’s time to do the same with the security guru Bruce Schneier:

schneier

Source: http://geekz.co.uk/schneierfacts

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Wie man “Schlag den Raab” schaut – ohne Werbung und ohne herumklicken

Hätte ich einen Fernseher wäre “Schlag den Raab” eine der wenigen Sendungen die ich mir glaube ich ab und an anschauen würde. Nun lief diese Sendung zum 13. Mal und ich dachte mir: Schaust du einmal nach ob das nicht im Internet als Stream angeboten wird.

Wird es – und zwar von ProSieben selbst – als Flash On-Demand “auf-der-Webseite” Player. Und hauptsächlich als Notiz für spätere Sendungen an mich selbst hier mal kurz die Anleitung wie man sich die ganzen Einzelvideos von Schlag den Raab auf den heimischen Rechner zieht um sie ohne Werbeunterbrechung und ohne lästiges herumklicken durchaus auchmal auf dem ebenso heimischen Fernseher anschauen kann. Die Qualität reicht dabei so gerade bis kurz nach knapp aber durchaus schaubar.

Also – für mich und den geneigten Leser:

schlag-denraab

Wie schon bei vorherigen Folgen der Sendung ist der vordere Teil der URL immer der gleiche, also http://videoplayer.prosieben.de/show_comedy/schlag_den_raab/flv/ – geändert wird jeweils das Jahr der Sendung – in diesem Fall 2008, der Monat – in diesem Fall 11 – und die Nummer der Sendung – in diesem Fall die 13. Danach kommt -00-01.flv bis -00-15.flv – wieviele Einzelteile das sind kann man auf der Webseite abzählen oder einfach probieren bis ein Notfound kommt. Einfach oder?

Das ganze Zeug ist dann mit handelsüblichen Playern abspielbar und die Qualität ist wie schon gesagt nicht so schlecht für ein On-Demand Angebot der kostenlosen Sorte:

schlagdenraab3

Der Platzverbrauch ist dann entsprechend auch bemerkenswert für ein On-Demand Angebot aber das ist ja nur von Vorteil:

schlagdenraab2

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elastic windows

Amazon has done it’s thing and you can now order Windows based machinery based on EC2. That’s great news for us since we’re definitly planning to make our software also available on EC2.

“Amazon EC2 running Microsoft Windows Server® 2003 is a fast and dependable environment for deploying applications using the Microsoft Web Platform, including ASP.NET, ASP.NET AJAX, Silverlight™, and Internet Information Server (IIS). Amazon EC2 enables you to run any compatible Windows-based solution on AWS’ high-performance, reliable, cost-effective, cloud computing platform. Common Windows use cases include website and web-service hosting, high-performance computing (HPC) and data processing, media transcoding, distributed testing, ASP.NET application hosting, and any other application requiring Windows software. Amazon EC2 also now supports the SQL Server® Express and SQL Server Standard databases, and makes those offerings available to customers on an hourly basis.”

Source: http://aws.amazon.com/windows/

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How to fix a “Maximum length exceeded” error message in ASP.NET

Since I had to fix it for more than hundred times before – here is once and for all the solution:

Add to the httpRuntime section of the web.config file of your ASP.NET application or webservice:

and you’re done.

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Charlotte Roche wieder im TV

Diesmal ist 3sat eine zeitweilige Heimat für Charlotte Roche. In der dort ab 1. Oktober startenden Reihe “Charlotte Roche unter…” wird sie Müllmänner, Bestatter, Altenpfleger in ihrem Alltag besuchen:

“Dabei probt Charlotte Roche nach eigenen Angaben den “charmanten Aufeinanderprall“. Ohne Drehbuch, ohne Absprachen, ganz spontan lässt sie sich auf Berufswelten und Menschen ein. “Ich versuche nicht, irgendeine verborgene Wahrheit ans Licht zu zerren. Es geht darum, was wir gemeinsam erleben.“ Und der Zuschauer lernt mit.”

charlotteunterbestatter

Dankenswerterweise gibt es die kompletter Serie schon im Internet zu schauen – hochinteressante Sache das und meiner Meinung nach seit langem das beste Projekt von Charlotte.

P.S.: vielen Dank an Martin von Zwobotgeist für den Hinweis.

Source: 3sat

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Auf der Suche nach einem CMS…

In unserer kleinen Firma sind wir zur Zeit auch auf der Suche nach einem brauchbaren Content Management System und da kommt natürlich so ein Artikel wie gerufen: Eine Übersicht über einige der großen CMSe. Im moment favorisiert der Verantwortliche für die Webseite das Typo3 – das hab ich dann auch mal per VM zur Verfügung gestellt – aber wirklich überzeugt hat es zumindest mich nicht – nungut, ich muss damit ja auch nicht klar kommen.

“Wenigstens bin ich nicht der einzige! Und neu ist meine Problematik auch nicht: Bereits Anfang 2004 war der große Dave Shea auf der Suche nach einem geeigneten CMS, das seine (wirklich nicht besonders exotischen) Forderungen erfüllt. So ähnlich fühle ich mich auch gerade, jedoch fast 5 Jahre später. Und wie es scheint, hat sich gar nicht soviel verändert :-)”

typo3

Source: http://praegnanz.de/weblog/subjektiver-cms-einkaufsfuehrer

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free graph paper generator…

…if you do have a decent printer and if you haven’t got any graph paper – you could print it yourself.

graphpaper

thx to Kristian.

Source: http://www.incompetech.com/graphpaper/plain/

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you don’t understand what’s been said: download subtitles!

If you are frequently watching foreign language TV Shows you might be interested in subtitles for your TV shows:

“Here you can find subtitles for the most popular TV Shows and TV series. Subtitles are available in multiple languages. All subtitles here are packed with WinZip, you must unpack to use it. To watch DivX/XviD movies with subtitles you first need to install a DirectShow filter for Windows Media Player which is called DirectVobSub.”

subtitles

Source: http://www.tvsubtitles.net/

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I finally got my low latency network audio solution

In May 2005 I wrote about a wish I had for years:

“As usual I’ve got a very strange wish what nobody else seems to have on this planet. I have several computers of different platforms. And on one of this machines there are speakers attached…I want to have the possibility to output from any of the machines to the speakers. And please loss-less and low latency!”

It took more than 3 years to fulfill this particular wish. But now it’s done. In 2005 I mentioned the Airfoil software that could run on MacOS X and forward sound from almost every application to an AirTunes compatible device. As it turns out Rogue Amoeba did their homework and created a free “Airfoil Speakers” application which can be used on Windows and MacOS X.

So the things are simple: Start the speaker application on a machine that is in the same network/subnet as the Airfoil master. The virtual speaker is then displayed on the master machine and you can assign a sound source from that machine to the speaker. Hmm… Simple Setup sample: One machine is in my kitchen (Windows XP machine) and one machine is on my desk – an iMac. In the kitchen only the speaker application is started and the iMac instantly “sees” the speaker. One click and the sound output of my desk machine is forwarded through the network to the kitchen… Easy and cool. One can think of any other combination of Speaker/Master application – even multiple speakers can be powered by one master…oh joy!

So here is what the master looks like:

airfoil

and this is what it looks like on a client (speaker):

airfoil2

Source 1: nerd wish of 2005
Source 2: http://rogueamoeba.com/airfoil/

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free eBook galore: Python

There are more than 10 free eBooks available about Python:

… like “Dive into Python”:

1590593561.01._SS500_SCLZZZZZZZ_V1110519742_

“This is a fantastic book that is also available in print. It covers everything, from installing Python and the language’s syntax, right up to web services and unit testing. This is a good book to learn from, but it’s also excellent to use a reference. I frequently find myself visiting the site! If you only read one book on this list make it this one.”

other eBooks:

An Introduction to Tkinter
How to think like a Computer Scientist
The Standard Python Library
Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python
The Django Book
The Pylons Book
Data Structures and Algorithms with Object-Oriented Design Patterns in Python
Building Skills in Python
Building Skills in OO Design

Source 1: Dive into Python
Source 2: An Introduction to Tkinter
Source 3: How to think like a Computer Scientist
Source 4: The Standard Python Library
Source 5: Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python
Source 6: The Django Book
Source 7: The Pylons Book
Source 8: Data Structures and Algorithms with Object-Oriented Design Patterns in Python
Source 9: Building Skills in Python
Source 10: Building Skills in OO Design

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free eBook: Data Structures and Algorithms

“This book written by Granville Barnett and Luca Del Tongo is part of an effort to provide all developers with a core understanding of algorithms that operate on various common, and uncommon data structures.

Data Structures and Algorithms: Annotated Reference with Examples is completely free!”

The first draft is available now – and it’s 97 pages.

dsa

Source: http://dotnetslackers.com/projects/Data-Structures-And-Algorithms/

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turn new pictures into old ones…the Bakumatsu picture generator

“Bakumatsu were the final years of the Edo period in Japan. It was a turning point in Japanese history as it was the end of the period of isolation in Japan. The feudal way of governing was coming to an end, and the start of the Meiji government, which would later take Japan to the world power status.”

This is a very cool picture effect free to use which turns this:

original

into this:

stvhzvzz-20080825040823

Source: http://labs.wanokoto.jp/olds

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Rechte-Kleinstaaterei

Da surfe ich hier und da mal herum – schaue mir ein paar Internetseiten über Bamberg an und da werde ich Zeuge einer ganz seltsamen Darbietung.

Bislang wusste ich dass Verbreitungsrechte im Internet auf Länder vergeben werden können – also dass man beispielsweise einen Webseiten Inhalt oder Livestream nur innerhalb der USA abrufen kann.

Nun scheint diese Art der Gängelung auch innerhalb von einzelnen Staaten Mode zu werden. Offenbar kann man in Deutschland nämlich die Rechte nur für ein bestimmtes Bundesland erwerben… Leute Leute wo wird das noch hinführen?

bamberg2

Source: http://www.bamberg-guide.de/bamberg/magazin/artikel.php?id=20080809201222

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Photosynth is open for the public

Believe it or not – it’s been 2 years since I first wrote about Photosynth technology. Today Microsoft made it available to the public. It’s not a tool (yet) – like I wanted – right now but it’s built into this website – so you have to upload your pictures, they are processed and then you can browse on this website… well it’s a start for a really great technology.

“We’re pleased to announce the first full release of Photosynth, available now at photosynth.com. Photosynth takes a collection of regular photographs and reconstructs the scene or object in a 3-D environment. For those of you who have seen the videos or tried our tech preview, you could experience synths that we made in the lab and get a feel for what Photosynth is and how it works. But now, for the first time ever you can create synths from your own pictures and share them with your friends. Explore great synths from others or create a few of your own.”

halo3photosynth

It’s not going to work on anything different than Windows. So stick to the movies if you’re on anything else. But as far as I know it’ll run o

Source 1: http://photosynth.net/Default.aspx
Source 2: http://www.schrankmonster.de/PermaLink,guid,fdc3d1fb-4966-418b-83ea-1e0c12aae833.aspx

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how to push an INN NNTP newsserver dump to a new newsserver…

I happen to have this ginormous archive from a local newsserver – more than 14 gigabytes of text and more than 8 years of history. Now this archive is a dump from the INN NNTP server that was previously used. It’s one folder per newsgroup and one file per article.

So I now want to integrate that archive into my own new newsserver – so what I am going to do is: Writing a small client application that can push all the articles from the folders to the new newsserver via nntp procotol.

Since the NNTP protocol is trivial to code and to explain I won’t reimplement it once again – instead I am going to use Randy Charles Morins nice article about accessing NNTP servers with C#:

“NNTP is an older fading protocol in the Internet protocol family. The protocol is used to retrieve news from news server, a.k.a. NetNews servers. The protocol works by posting messages into various forums, a.k.a. newsgroups. Then other end-users can read the recent posts in the forums. There also exist protocols for distributing NetNews contents amongst various NetNews servers, allowing thousands of servers to share news and forums. The most popular news server is of course Microsoft’s [nntp://news.microsoft.com]. More often than not, you can launch your NetNews client by typing the nntp URL in your browser’s address bar.”

I just made a quick-n-dirty addition of NNTP USER/PASS Authentification because my new server needs a username/password authentification. (NNTP Authentification is specified in RFC 4643)

The tool is easy to use since it’s command line and only takes simple parameters:

pushtonntp

Grab the source and compiled binary here: PushToNNTP.zip (32,82 KB)

I release all of this under cc-by-nc-sa license.

Source 1: http://www.developerfusion.co.uk/show/4472/1/
Source 2: http://www.rfc-archive.org/getrfc.php?rfc=4643
Source 3: PushToNNTP.zip (32,82 KB)

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When a site redesign isn’t accepted by your users…

…they eventually start making their own layout of your site… And you cannot do anything about it but listening to them!

A few days ago a big it-news site in germany relaunched it’s site with a new fixed-with-all-left layout. And more than 3000 comments by users had one and only thing to say: We don’t like it.

They disliked it that much that a few sat down and created their own site layouts by using firefox plugins like “stylish” – where you can create your own styles for sites.

beforeafter

I always wanted to see what these style-altering plugins can do but I never had the drive to think me into it…

Source: http://userstyles.org/styles/9589

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Munich in 3D …

OMG! I just realized that the better part of Munich is available in Google Earth in 3D mode – which means real real 3D buildings like this. I thought that the birds eye view of Virtual Earth is cool – but this is a different animal.

googlearth

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read the MSDN Forums with a cool client interface

I often read in the MSDN Forums but I will read more often because now there’s a client application available:

“After many months of hard work we are proud to announce the availability of our first CTP of the Microsoft Forums Client. Much of the work for this CTP is in foundational code that will let us build the rest of the application, but we hope that this first preview will let you see what direction we’re heading in, and also give you a chance to give us feedback!
Things that work in this CTP:

  • Getting the list of available forums
  • Subscribing to forums you’re interested in
  • Manually (by right click menu) synchronizing the Question and General Discussion threads in a forum
  • Reading posts that have been synchronized
  • Hierarchical (threaded) view of conversations”

CTP Main Screen

Source: http://www.codeplex.com/msdnforumsclient

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a concept map of everything “distributed systems”

Apparently someone had some time to kill:

“The other day I had this idea, what if I were to take all the concepts I write, speak, and consult about and turn them into a concept map. That might help me explain how things like messaging, unit of work, and exception management work together and why. It also shouldn’t be too much work. Or so I thought.

I started out with a blank piece of paper, and this is what happened:”

concept-map

Source: http://www.udidahan.com/2008/08/04/distributed-systems-concept-map/

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Olympic livestream

German public tv is doing almost 24h livestreams of the olympic games…

olympiclivestream

encoder.olympia.geo1_ola_vh.mov (,76 KB)
encoder.olympia.geo2_ola_vh.mov (,77 KB)
encoder.olympia.geo3_ola_vh.mov (,77 KB)

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bootie – bootleg mashup music

What is a mashup? Wikipedia:

“A mashup or bootleg[1] is a song or composition created from the combination of the music from one song with the a cappella from another (also mash up and mash-up). These songs may be considered part of the European bastard pop musical genre. “A mash-up is a song created out of pieces of two or more songs, usually by overlaying the vocal track of one song seamlessly over the music track of another… Mash-ups are incredible fun and a fascinating way to reexperience some of your favorite tunes.””

And there is this website – offering over 200 tracks and extras around the mashup theme – even best-of-samplers are available:

BestOfBootie BestOfBootie2006_CD

BestOfBootie2007_CD

Source 1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mashup_(music)
Source 2: http://www.bootieusa.com/

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Version 2 (final) of my Dropbox Tool

Some days ago I wrote about a 10 minute hack of a tool I always wanted to have – now I was using it quite often so I decided to upgrade it a bit – besides of the usual bugfixing I added these features:

  • unlimited filesize – if the file is >4 Megabyte it’ll split into smaller portions and uploaded one by one
  • Progressbar 🙂 When uploading severel hundred Mbytes you just want a progress indicator.
  • new Icon (curtesy of my wife – she did not like the old icon…)

dropboxv2

You can grab the source here.

Source 1: DropBox-v2.zip (92,77 KB)
Source 2: a selfmade web drop box in 10 minutes

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How to play a shooter in 16 pixel by 16 pixels space

It’s really a piece of art with only 256 pixels space – it’s the remake of the Defender game you won’t be able to play in Full HD:

DEFENDER of the favicon is a JavaScript remake of Eugene Jarvis‘ brilliant arcade game Defender written by Mathieu ‘p01’ Henri and inspired by Scott Schiller‘s experiment with generated favicons VU meter. The idea was to push the concept of generated favicons further and pack a thrilling retro shooter in 16×16 pixels using JavaScript, canvas and data: URIs.”

“Each frame of the game is generated on the fly in JavaScript into a 16×16 canvas element, then converted to a 32bits PNG image and used in place of the favicon.”

To be clear: This is not a joke – it’s an actual game… the size of:

16x16defender

Source: http://www.p01.org/releases/DHTML_contests/files/DEFENDER_of_the_favicon/

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a selfmade web drop box in 10 minutes

I often have to share files with people – files which most of the time can be publically accessible – the problem is though that it’s far to much copy-n-paste involved to get the file uploaded and the URL of the file put together. I just made my life a bit easier and invested some minutes to write a small “DropBox” application that uses a custom webservice hosted on one of my machines to upload, list and delete files and to allow users that have the correct URL to download files.

paths

The path scheme is obviously just that I added a dropped folder in which the files will be stored and the webservice itself – that’s all on the webserver machine (having this folder setup as a website using ASP.NET 2.0)

For the client I wrote this little app:

dropboxapp

It’s no rocket science but it’s a good example for a small app that utilizes a webservice. If you want to use it you have to configure the webservice and the Client Application:

for the webservice:

wsconfig

You have to adjust the paths, URLs and the Password.

for the application:

appconfig

You just have to set the right Password.

If you’re set everything up correctly you should be able to drop files onto the Client Application window and get them uploaded to your webserver – the URL is automatically in your clipboard when everything worked.

If you click on the “Manage” tab in the Client Application you can get a list of all files on the server – clicking on the name of the file will automatically add the url to that file to your clipboard – if you want to delete a file – just click on it and click “delete selected file”.

The code can be considered public-domain and can be downloaded here.

I used the open-source icons from the Tango Desktop project to make a simple icon for the client application.

Source 1: DropBoxService-v1.rar (94,09 KB)
Source 2: http://tango.freedesktop.org/Tango_Desktop_Project

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Cheat Sheets for all things web developing

“Cheat sheets are helpful to have around because they allow you to quickly remember code syntax and see related concepts visually. Additionally, they’re nice decorative pieces for your office.”

There are more than 20 cheat sheets available – heck even I found several ones that could come handy in the future.

Source: http://sixrevisions.com/resources/cheat_sheets_web_developer/

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german Citizens’ band radio over the internet…Freies Funknetz!

The internet makes things possible some people dreamt of for years. One of these things is the possibility to stream live-voice-chat over the internet. Many people used the citizens’ band radio – CB radio – for the last decades:

Citizens’ Band radio (CB) is, in many countries, a system of short-distance, simplex[1] radio communications between individuals on a selection of 40 channels within the 27 MHz (11 meter) band. The CB radio service should not be confused with FRS, GMRS, MURS, or amateur (“ham”) radio. Similar personal radio services exist in other countries, with varying requirements for licensing and differing technical standards. In many countries, CB does not require a license and, unlike amateur radio, it may be used for business as well as personal communications.”

For several years now there is a group of people from virtually everywhere in germany who connect their CB radios to the internet – they link their “gateways” together using a software normally used by online gamers called “TeamSpeak”. All you have to do to take a look is to read this short how-to and follow the steps.

Here’s a sneak-peak at the current status of the server:

There’s even a livestream available (but sometimes not working):

Source 1: http://www.freiesfunknetz.com/
Source 2: http://www.goteamspeak.com/

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note to myself: hundreds of hd resolution wallpapers

This is just a small note for myself – If I will ever search a new wallpaper for one of my machines I should take a look at this link:

GrOfcuBacteria_full

Source: http://nerdbusiness.com/blog/218-hd-resolution-desktop-wallpapers-nerds

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Online Addiction.

Spooky. Hilarious!

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hear and chat about the MacWorld San Francisco with the bits-und-so crew

Next tuesday it’s once again MacWorld-time – Apple will kick off it’s developer conference with a keynote and the guys of bits-und-so are going to meet and live-stream their comments and thoughts.

See you tuesday about 1730 local german time…

Source: http://www.bitsundso.de/live/

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german radio station WDR has it’s own “Radio Recorder”-Tool to record live broadcasts

Oh joy! It seems that the public-law radio and tv channels in germany start to think about the possibilities the internet can bring us.

One of these channels is the WDR radio which just started it’s internet push: the WDR RadioRecorder is available now – and it allows you to select a broadcast and mark it to be recorded. Actually it sounds a bit strange because I tend to think that the people at WDR radio don’t really get it when it comes to “on-demand”. Recording is not on-demand… The tool is available for Windows only at the moment and looks a bit like iTunes…

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watch NASA TV live streams at higher bitrates (quality)

They landed on the mars again…and they will launch a space shuttle within the next 22 hours if everything works out as planned. So maybe you, just like me, are interested in getting some live-information about that.

There’s NASA TV but on the NASA website you only get low (150kbit) bitrate streams. If you want better quality, just try these links:

Of course you can always go with the standard website livestream…

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Zak McKracken is back! And you can download it for free!

zakmckracken

“”Zak McKracken: between time and space” is an unofficial sequel to the adventure game “Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders” released in 1988. We, the “Artificial Hair Bros.” have devoted our time to create a worthy follow up to this all-time-classic. Capturing the mood and of the original game and creating something new nonetheless.

It’s been a while since Zak’s last adventure. People have forgotten all about our hero who saved humanity from enslavement. His five minutes of fame went by way too quick and the money he earned with his award winning book went down the drains when Zak decided to get his own newspaper off the ground.

But now Zak has to prove his worth once again. Stumbling into his next adventure, Zak gets yet another chance to show the world what real heroes are made of…

Why a sequel to ZakMcKracken?

Zak McKracken is one of the few adventure games that never got a proper sequel. There are no high-res backgrounds and no sweeping soundtrack, this left us with a lot of freedom when we started working on this game.

Handmade backgrounds, elaborate cut-scenes

We think that hand-drawn backgrounds made some of the old adventure games something very special. This is why we decided to keep the gameplay stricly 2D. But Zak:btas isn’t just a pixel-adventure, we have created the scenery and characters in our own graphical style and added 3D cut-scenes to add some diversity.

How long did it take to develop this game?
Work on the project began in 2002. In the beginning starting out as an amateur-game, we soon found ourselves reaching higher levels of quality step by step. By the time we are done 5 years of hard work will lay behind us.

What problems had to be solved when making this game?

One of the biggest challenges has been recruiting a team one could rely on and keeping the members of the team motivated to work on their respective parts. Unfortunately not everyone is motivated and passionate enough to work on a project for free over such a long period of time. But we were lucky enough to find reliable members for each part of development. You really do need a good working team to master a project like this.”

Source: http://www.zak2.org

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the definition of "gone fishing"

Because so many people just didn’t understand what I meant with “gone fishing”:

  1. A procedure in which a man hangs his wang out into the red sea with bait in which will track down eggs that look hot and sexy(try not to go for a retarded one).
  2. A sign that tells someone that the person is gone(but they are really doing definition #1).
  3. A women that shoves fish into her vajingo.

Dude, how many times have you gone fishing with her? Go hang a gone fishing sign first. You women have gone fishing too much.

Source: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=gone+fishing

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SPAM-Bots can decrypt Captchas… ups…

If you thought that those fancy Captchas would serve their purpose of SPAM prevention forever you might want to think again.

From Wikipedia:

“A CAPTCHA (IPA: /ˈkæptʃə/) is a type of challenge-response test used in computing to determine that the user is not run by a computer. The process involves one computer (a server) asking a user to complete a simple test which the computer is able to generate and grade. Because other computers are unable to solve the CAPTCHA, any user entering a correct solution is presumed to be human. A common type of CAPTCHA requires that the user type the letters of a distorted image, sometimes with the addition of an obscured sequence of letters or digits that appears on the screen.”

It usually looks something like that:

Captcha

Now the news:

“Websense Security Labs ThreatSeeker™ technology has discovered that spammers in their recent tactics have drawn their attention towards traditional and infamous Hotmail, aka Live Hotmail services after the streamlined Live Mail Anti-CAPTCHA operations. Spammers have managed to create automated bots that are capable of not only signing up and creating random Hotmail accounts, but also use these accounts for spamming purposes from a proper Live Hotmail service.”

hotmailcatpcha-1.7[1]

Source 1: http://securitylabs.websense.com/content/Blogs/3063.aspx#
Source 2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAPTCHA

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free IP-TV (includes many german channels) Zattoo

Since joost doesn’t give you that much choice there are several other IP services – like Zattoo:

“Zattoo is live TV on your PC – it’s the football game as you chat, the news as you email, and your favorite soap as you pay your bills. Zattoo is also TV when you don’t have a TV – it’s the channels you want, when you want, where you want.”

1

That’s almost every german public service channel is available… whuuuuuuu!

Source: http://zattoo.com/

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see the MIX08 keynote…

MIX08 just started and you can now watch the keynote on-demand…just follow the link:
“The Next Web Now

Now in its third year, MIX is an intimate opportunity for cutting-edge technical, creative and business strategists to engage Microsoft in a conversation about the future of the web. Come explore the latest wave of opportunities and help redefine the boundaries between: content and commerce, PC and TV, Windows and the Web. “

mix_keynote

Source: http://www.visitmix.com/blogs/Joshua/Day-1-Keynote/

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Mercedes Benz Mixed Tape 19 available…

The previously discontinued Mixed Tape is back!

mixedtape19

They even started to make a whole show centered around the current mixed tape.

Get it now!

mixedtape19_2

Source: http://www.mercedes-benz.tv/mixedtape

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when you think you’re invulnerable by using Amazon services

Oh last year I worked with many different companies that thought that the best thing they could do to increase their availability is to outsource their complete webserver and storage infrastructure to Amazon.

Now last week there was this 2 hour black out of parts of the Amazon S3 infrastructure which should have this “wake up call” effect for most of those hype-believers.

S3 is great for all sorts of applications but you – like in everything IT – really shouldn’t depend on just one service provider.

Source: http://www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html?node=3435361

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another try to bring news and services to Windows Mobile phones

There is AvantGo and several other news and widget services for Windows Mobile but now there’s another try by Zumobi. This one the user interface is kind of cool but …

zumobi

“Zumobi is new and free mobile widget application that lets you enjoy entertainment and information content delivered to your phone in an innovative and fun way.”

Take a look at this short demo/review:

I installed and tested it. But since it really does need an unlimited data plan (which I don’t have on my phone right now) I uninstalled it shortly afterwards. Actually I suggest using EDGE or better UMTS because it’ll speed up things significantly.

Source: http://www.zumobi.com/

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ein paar Neuigkeiten von Charlotte?

Kollege boonkers machte mich eben per ICQ auf einen netten aber viel zu kurzen Artikel auf SPoN aufmerksam:

charlotteverteidigt

Danke boonkers und Danke Charlotte für die klaren und wahren Worte 🙂

Source 1: http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/leute/0,1518,535158,00.html
Source 2: http://www.thomas-peterson.de/

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Battle before Christmas

So maybe you are on the ever cruel pre-Christmas present hunt. And maybe you have to satisfy some wishes for DVDs. Usually you have a great choice because there are often many new items available for the Christmas sale. But the case gets serious if you are looking for the special one – the brand new 5-disc Blade Runner Ultimate Collector’s Edition.

51yXAKOJP L._AA240_

Fans have been waiting for years for this to come. Consequently the huge response and the fast sell-out. In recent days I have been witnessing the price-development, a fine example of how the mechanisms of supply and demand work:

Amazon.de offered the set for 43,95€ on its web site. Many bought. Some marketplace and ebay-activities for about the same price or slightly below.

Then the sell-out. What happened?

1. No more primary supply, but plenty of demand left.

2. Amazon-marketplace increases the prices to an average of 90€.

3. Hefty ebay-auctions for about 70-100€.

Suddenly, Amazon is back in the game – again for 43,95€

4. The marketplace prices collapsed to 42€.

5. Analogously the offers at ebay.

It’s sell-out again, because the sudden availability was due to cancellations.

6. Quickly every item below 60€ is gone from the marketplace – the rest now in the 90€-range.

7. Adjustments also at ebay – biddings exploded.

The end of the line? Well, we learned that DVDs can be traded like shares at the stock-exchange. All you need are enough panic people who want the same thing under their Christmas tree. And we didn’t even take a look at the LIMITED Blade Runner set.

Some information by the way if you are considering a buy:

– It’s a patience game. Wait until after Christmas (OK, this would be too late for Christmas itself.).

– Look at the UK: Half the price and with German audio track (except the workprint).

– Look at the US: Even cheaper and every edition available (English only).

– The 5-DVD set is NOT limited. There will be a new release soon next year.

– Watch your other DVDs first.

Jens Heymann

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Schrankmonster intern – USA

Von Zeit zu Zeit ist es von Interesse, zu erfahren, wie es um die eigene Webseite im Internet steht. Für einfache Statistiken gibt es entsprechende Log-Tools, die die Anzahl der Zugriffe über einen bestimmten Zeitraum messen, den verwendeten Browser und die Seite, von der der Zugriff erfolgte, anzeigen usw.

Mittlerweile gibt es aber auch Dienstleistungen, die sich auf qualitative Analysen spezialisieren, zumeist auf die Frage: Wer ist der Nutzer und wie kann man ihn möglichst interessengenau mit Werbung zupflastern? Etwas, was im Bereich des Online-Marketings sehr wichtig ist und natürlich Geld kostet (aber nicht muss).

Ein kostenloser Anbieter ist die Webseite www.quantcast.com. Eine Überprüfung für Schrankmonster.de ergab folgende Analyse über den typischen US-Nutzer:

Er ist

– männlich,

– weiß,

– zwischen 35 und 44 Jahre alt,

– verdient zwischen 30.000$ und 60.000$ im Jahr,

– hat zumindest einen College-Abschluss

– und keine Kinder zwischen 6 und 17 zu versorgen.

Darüber hinaus noch einige weitere Angaben:

– die Seite erreicht durchschnittlich 6.583 Nutzer im Monat,

– überdurchschnittlich viele Geringverdiener

– überdurchschnittlich viele Menschen, die weder weiß, schwarz, asiatisch noch Latinos sind (Wer bleibt da eigentlich übrig?)

– überdurchschnittlich viele ältere Menschen ab 65

 

Die Genauigkeit dieser Messungen muss natürlich stark (und zu Recht) bezweifelt werden. Die Ergebnisse wurden aufgrund weniger auswertbarer Nutzer aufgestellt und hochgerechnet. Dadurch entstehen selbstverständlich eingeschränkt repräsentative Zahlen. Aber immerhin…

Quelle: http://www.quantcast.com/schrankmonster.de/demographics

Jens Heymann

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WLAN’s Labyrinth

So the Telekom finally managed to bring DSL to my home region. Immediately new stuff was bought to establish a WLAN-network inside the house. When I went home of course I wanted to add my laptop ( a Medion MD 41100, 4 years old) to the net to gain access. But after never having used the WLAN-functions before (yes, there are such people…) no one could know that this would end up in such tremendous trial and error.

The router was a Speedport W 900V and working. It took me about an hour to find the add-new-user-option in the router-menu. After filling in the MAC of my Intel PRO/Wireless LAN 2100 card and creating a new WLAN-connection I was ready to go but nothing happened (yet).

Speedport W 900V

From now I tried several ways to get it done:

1. Get your drivers updated

This was strongly recommended because my card didn’t know the WPA-coding yet, only the older WEP-standard. OK, done. Now I was able to type in some data required by the router. But still no connection.

2. Get your Windows updated

Somewhere I read that there is a support-patch for WPA by Microsoft. Downloaded and installed. Still no access.

3. Use the cards firmware

Intel programmed a software called Intel PROSet for doing some adjustments if needed and adding a new connection which I did. But again without any success.

Here an important thought crossed my mind: Maybe the card is deactivated (The problem had to be clearly somewhere in my laptop because I was using another one for researching in the Internet, so there was a WLAN available and it was working.).

Some clues:

PROSet-configuration (hardware deactivated)

Tray-icon (no network, no connection, transmitter OFF)

Good! So I narrowed down the problem. But how to activate the transmitter?

4. Try the Windows-network-configuration

Many options but nowhere the one I was looking for.

5. Try the firmware

Look above to the PROSet-configuration image: The option to activate the transmitter is simply disabled. Hmm…

6. Try the tray-icon

No, not here.

7. Check your BIOS

Yes, there is a WLAN-entry. But my Phoenix-BIOS has only two modes: card always deactivated on every start or card activated only if activated prior to the system shut-down. So no solution here.

8. Remove the card from your profile

Done and the same as before.

9. Deep-looking in windows

As you know there is a life under the desktop. Typing in %systemroot%\system32\services.msc brought up a nice menu about the systems local services. Here you look for network-connections as follows:

The way to start already has been “automatic”. OK.

10. Look for a hardware-button

Some of you might mention here that this could have happened much earlier: simply looking for an activation-button. And you are right, this button exists. However, pressing it changed nothing.

The solution:

The hardware-button proved to be a good hint. Next I checked the program for controlling the programmable buttons (EzSystem).

Hey, there is an option for WLAN. Activated and one system restart later it was like it was before: the card still deactivated. Then I checked out the directory of this EzSystem-Software.

wbutton.exe –> nothing happened

wirelesscontrol.exe –> peng! WLAN activated and access to the Internet.

Finally it worked. Let’s review it: Obviously you cannot activate WLAN neither through Windows nor the cards firmware; you need a third party’s software. This is (in my opinion) a very weird way.

So I guess that simply some links between components got lost and you have to re-engineer that. A hard task, especially if you have formatted the harddisc right after the purchase, do not knowing anything anymore about the original state and with the support disc hundreds of kilometers away.

Jens Heymann

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Using the Exchange 2007 Web Service for Mail retrieval…

exchange07

So here’s the problem I had: There is an Exchange 2007 server I am forced to use for some of my daily work and that’s where the problems start: Due to the work of some evil geniuses there’s a load of user and security policies associated with that server. That’s not a problem per se: It’s just that things like “forward all mails to this account” don’t work. You have to use Outlook Web Access or the heavyweight Outlook to get to your mails… Till today I had an Outlook 2007 running on my private IMAP mailserver machine just for the purpose of downloading all the mail from the Exchange server to the local harddisk. I had setup a client-rule to copy all the mail to my IMAP server but despite the fact Outlook is running on the exact same machine as the IMAP server it just did not work for more than 1-20 messages… connections were lost and stuff screwed up. So I had to move all the messages manually (Select-All -> Drag-n-Drop onto the IMAP folder inside Outlook) which took me quite some time each month.

Two days ago I read an article where namenlos wrote about his journey with his employers Exchange server. He wrote a Python script that did the job for Exchange 2003 by using the WebDAV features. These features unfortunatly are deprecated in the current 2007 release of Exchange. So I decided to write a tool in C# that does the trick and uses the brand-spanking new Exchange 2007 Web Service.

The Exchange 2007 SDK is a wasteland to say the least when it comes to documentation. It took me some time and a good search engine to get to something useful out of it. But I think it’s worth the pain: When you got over the first annoying steps you’ll just like me will start to love the possibilities this Web Services give you.

In my case I am using the webservices to do these things:

  1. allocate my inbox and obtain a listing of messageIDs
  2. get the complete messages out of my inbox
  3. reformat the messages and send them via smtp to my own mail server

What I’ve written is not feature complete (as in: no attachements, …) but it’s a great and working start and does the 3 point-trick from above quite well. I will refine the code and add the missing features (e.g. attachements and stuff) in the future… or maybe you are faster than me. In that case it would be well appreciated if you send me your code/a link to the code (find my email in the sourcefile…)

code
get the code here. (90 kbytes)

Source 1: http://blog.slash-me.net/archives/235-fetchmail-fuer-MS-Exchange.html
Source 2: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa562613.aspx
Source 3: http://www.schrankmonster.de/content/binary/Exchange2IMAP.zip

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Skype scares me…right now.

I had a Skype call today with a colleague and we came across the remaining 1,40 Euros on his SkypeOut balance… As many of you will know this SkypeOut balance is limited to 180 days. So when you’re not using it for 180 days it’ll be deactivated. We didn’t know this at that very moment we just talked about it what would happen.

And minutes later this happens:

I did not do anything with skype. I did not search on skype.com nor did I do anything else except talking about the subject with my colleague over skype. And there it is: The information we just talked about… you have to do a call once every 180 days to keep your SkypeOut activated…

Am I a bit to paranoid on that matter? It just matches a bit too well … and that would explain why Skype is using that much CPU cycles while calls are made…

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